Dave Sharma says Liberals 'doing enough' on climate after Hewson attack
The Liberal candidate for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, said his party is “doing enough” and has “a good record” on climate change, after a blistering attack from former leader John Hewson, who said the party deserved a “drubbing” over its inaction on the issue.
Hewson told Guardian Australia that Liberal voters have a unique opportunity: register a protest now and return to the party at the general election in six months’ time.
“I obviously disagree with John Hewson on this,” the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said as he campaigned with Sharma at an optometrist’s shop in Rose Bay on Wednesday, where the theme seemed to be something about “vision”.
Frydenberg said a vote for an independent in Wentworth was as good as a vote for the Labor party.
“It will bring uncertainty to the parliament and it will bring Bill Shorten one step closer to The Lodge,” Frydenberg said.
Sharma also rejected Hewson’s assessment that the Liberal policy on climate change was inadequate.
“I do think we are doing enough and I do think we have had a good record on climate change. Emissions are at their lowest levels in 28 years,” he said. Sharma was referring to emissions as a proportion of GDP not absolute emissions. “We are on track to meet the Paris commitments and I believe we will address the Paris commitments and we will be addressing affordability and sustainable and coherent energy policy,” he said.
Hewson has accused the Liberals of putting their heads in the sand on the issue and kicking the issue down the road for future generations.
The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull dropped plans for a national energy guarantee that would have imposed emissions reduction targets and then was dumped by his own party, which was deeply divided over his plan.
Frydenberg defended the government’s record. He said emissions on a per capita GDP basis have come down to their lowest level in 28 years.
But the economy has been growing and so too have overall emissions.
Australia is on a trajectory that will see it miss its Paris climate targets – a reduction of 26% to 28% based on 2005 levels – according to figures from the consultants, NDEVR Environmental, for the year up to the end of June 2018.
The NDVER figures showed Australia’s emissions were again the highest on record when unreliable data from the land use and forestry sectors was excluded. This was the third consecutive year for record-breaking emissions.
Despite this, Frydenberg claimed that the nation is on track to meet its Paris commitments – even without the Neg, which he had supported. He also lauded the Coalition’s record on investment in renewables.
“Renewable energy investment has never been higher in Australia. Never been higher. Twenty per cent of Australian homes have solar panels on their roofs. We’ve seen large-scale renewable projects. We’ve got Snowy Hydro, the largest pumped hydro facility in the southern hemisphere,” he said.
“These are Coalition achievements. These are Coalition initiatives. These are things that we should be proud of, rather than the rhetoric and the reckless targets and policies of Labor and the Greens,” he said.
Asked about the IPCC report this week, which called for coal generation to be phased out by 2050 or the world would be facing a catastrophe, Frydenberg said it was their word, not ours.
“Our policy is you need to do it in a way to reduce your carbon footprint in a way that is cost effective and that pays paramount importance to what the impact on the businesses and the households that rely on their energy for their sustainability, for their viability,” he said.
He said coal and gas would need to remain part of the energy mix. Sharma did not offer an opinion.
The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and the Liberal candidate for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, have defended the party’s climate change record.